(originally posted on Washington Times Communities)
Thousands of students across Washington DC woke up in the early morning, rode the Metro, and patiently waited for a CPAC shuttle bus to bring them to the Gaylord National Hotel on Saturday morning, the final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Once they arrived, however, the atmosphere was quickly energized with a lineup of Tea Party speakers.
Even Emcee Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA referred to the problems with both parties, imploring the conference’s attendees to avoid both Republicans and Democrats that advocate increased spending.
Jenny Beth Martin, a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, urged conservatives to “stand” and “fight” for conservative principles, her voice rising to a fever pitch as the applause continued to grow louder.
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin then spoke about the union controversy in his own state. Walker is known for a deeply divisive battle against Wisconsin’s public sector unions over collective bargaining rights. Walker’s reforms changed teacher tenure so that firing was based on merit instead of seniority. Because of his reforms, he argued, “We can put the best and the brightest in our classrooms, and we can pay them to stay there.”
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a presidential candidate last year, continued the “tea party” theme, though not mentioning the words. “We’re in a 50-year struggle for the conservative movement in the Republican party,” he said. “We don’t need new principles, but we do need lots of new ideas to implement those principles in the 21st century.” Gingrich announced his plans for a new future of government, describing his current work at Newt University, his new project, “We stand today on the edge of a great future, but Washington is blind to it in both parties.”
Gingrich engaged in more party-bashing, claiming the current Republican party was still “mired” in the past and old ideas. Innovation is the key to articulating a future message. The new Pope Francis can challenge both parties, Gingrich concluded. “If we are a party focused on the right to life, and the right to a good life, we will be the majority party.”
Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.), also a presidential candidate last year, is a founder of the House Tea Party Caucus. She began with the importance of the rising national debt. “That is a war on the young. That isn’t caring about you. That isn’t caring about the future.” Bachmann stressed examples of government waste, citing five chefs on Air Force One, projectionists to run the White House Movie Theater for the first family, and staff to walk the President’s dog. Cut those programs before White House tours, she argued.
According to Bachmann, progress is technological innovation, medical breakthroughs, growth, and freedom. “It is our duty to pay it forward to the next generation.” She said the word “care” repeatedly throughout the speech, concluding with, “This is who we are. The movement of love. The movement of care.”